Bikers have come roaring to the aid of the neonatal intensive care unit at University Hospital Galway.
‘Bikers Ride Out For Prems’, a voluntary charity organisation that raises money to purchase medical equipment for neonatal units and hospitals for sick children recently donated €1000 worth of hotel vouchers to the NICU at the hospital.
The ‘Bikers Ride Out For Prems’ was set up by the Blue Daos Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club Banner and to date have provided hospitals around the country with almost €600,000 worth of equipment.
Dr Johannes Letshwiti, Consultant Neonatologist at UHG said, “As a referral centre for the West of Ireland we care for very premature babies from a huge geographical area.”
“Unfortunately one of biggest barriers for families is the lack of accommodation on or near the neonatal unit.”
“This can be a huge challenge resulting in potentially huge expenses for parents and breast feeding mothers.”
“This generous donation of hotel vouchers will not only help parents financially but will give them the opportunity to spend more time with their baby and be there to support baby’s care through skin to skin and breastfeeding which has proven to improve the health of premature and sick babies.”
Billy Maher from County Offaly was born at University Hospital Galway on 13 December 2011 at jst 24 weeks, weighing a tiny 1lb 12oz.
His father John recalls how anxious he and his wife Suzanne were, and how improbablke it seemed that their son would survive.
“When Billy was born we were told that his organs were under developed and that he probably wouldn’t survive.”
Things got even worse for the family when Billy developed septicaemia and meningitis, and they feared the worst.
“But miraculously he turned a corner and after four months in the neonatal unit Billy finally came home. Today we are blessed that we have a very happy and healthy 11 year old boy.”
“During his time in the neonatal unit Billy received exceptional care from an incredible team of medical professionals. I wanted to do something, give something back in appreciation.”
“I got involved with the ‘Bikers Ride Out For Prems’ after I saw a poster about their charitable organisation and I knew instantly this was something I had to be a part of.”
John joined the charity in 2012 and he’s been working with them to support hospitals and vulnerable children ever since.
Irene Glynn, Clinical Nurse Manager 2 at the Neonatal Unit said, “We are so grateful to the ‘Bikers Ride Out For Prems’ for this donation.”
“Each year we have around 400 admissions into the neonatal unit and over half of those admitted in the last few years were born premature and had to stay longer in the NICU.”
World Prematurity Day takes place each year on November 17, both to celebrate these children who overcome all the odds, and to highlight the challenges they face.
It’s an opportunity to thank staff for the incredible work they do keeping children alive, and to raise awareness that more needs to be done about this issue.